Franchise businesses have unique situations when it comes to Local SEO.
On one hand, many of these organizations have hundreds or thousands of locations around the world that all need to be seen by consumers in their local areas. But with so many different variables – from location-specific landing pages to local schema markup – fully optimizing an online presence can be a daunting task.
In Chapter 9 of our Definitive Guide to Local SEO, we’ll explore some of the challenges that we’ve learned franchises face when planning a local SEO strategy and provide a list of best practices that can be used for effective implementation.
How Effective is Local SEO for Franchises?
In our experience, local SEO is an incredibly effective tool for franchises. It has the potential to generate recurring profits, while simultaneously increasing the organization’s overall profitability.
By optimizing a website’s content and structure for local searches, large organizations can create a steady stream of new customers, as well as build brand recognition in their arena. This will lead to increased sales from both existing and new customers alike.
On top of that, it allows multi-location organizations to virtually target prospective customers in organic search based on their geographic location — something that traditional marketing are less effective at.
Furthermore, local SEO is cost-effective compared to other forms of marketing such as television or radio campaigns. It reaches a larger audience at a much lower cost than other forms of promotion.
As a result, companies can get the most out of their advertising budget with minimal investment in resources or time.
Additionally, unlike traditional advertising methods, most results from local SEO remain visible for extended periods — giving organizations more bang for their buck in the long run.
What Challenges do Franchises Face When Planning a Local SEO Strategy?
Franchises face several unique challenges when planning a local SEO strategy.
One of the primary challenges is that each location has its own identity and must be marketed individually to ensure that the local market is aware of the business. This requires significant resources such as time and budget, as well as intimate knowledge of the local market, to be successful.
Additionally, businesses must remain vigilant in monitoring their competition and understanding their online presence to remain competitive — yet another time-consuming endeavor.
These points aside, we’ve listed 5 of the top challenges that large, multi-location organizations face when investigating whether or not to invest in local SEO, as well as when they choose to move forward with a strategy.
1. Tracking ROI
The ability to accurately measure ROI from local search is a factor that often prevents franchises from planning a Local SEO strategy.
Even though local SEO does directly generate sales and leads for organizations, it’s primarily seen as a means to improve brand recognition, which is a tough metric to quantify in dollars returned.
Without utilizing analytics tools such as Google Analytics or a CRM system, like HubSpot, it can be challenging to accurately track how much traffic is being generated by local searches, where customers are coming from, and what keywords they are using when searching for a particular business — all of which justify a local SEO investment.
With that being said, tracking the effectiveness of a local SEO campaign is certainly possible. Furthermore, the downside of completely ignoring local SEO is more costly than starting and maintaining a campaign. This fact holds especially true if a competitor is actively invested in local SEO since they likely already rank in Google’s Map Pack across the areas they serve, essentially dominating multiple markets you might want to gain a foothold in.
In summary, if you have analytics setup for your organization and utilize a CRM, then you can track the effectiveness of your local SEO strategy.
Most of the franchises we discuss Local SEO with typically already have extensive marketing infrastructures in place. In some cases, we hear that investing additional funds into this new endeavor isn’t seen as being worth the potential return when they’re already turning a profit.
They might assume that they are already reaching enough people through other channels, or they may be unaware of the value of local SEO in driving more qualified leads to their businesses.
Sure, they understand that driving more qualified leads to their business is beneficial but without gauging ROI or tracking customer behavior before and after implementation it can be difficult to accurately measure success or justify investing in local search optimization efforts.
Without hard data demonstrating the effects of local SEO, these companies might decide it’s not worth the time and money required for implementation.
Finally, some franchises have been successful without utilizing local search optimization tactics up until now and therefore feel no urgency to jump on board with this quickly evolving industry trend.
If a business is doing well without performing any SEO activities it can be easy to get complacent and ignore investing any additional time and resources into something unfamiliar like Local SEO.
3. Slow Decision Making
We have seen that slow decision-making in large organizations hinders their ability to plan out an effective local SEO strategy.
This is because large organizations often have complex levels of bureaucracy, multiple layers of management, and various departments that all must coordinate with each other for a decision to be made.
With so many people involved in the process, there can be lengthy delays between the initial idea of a local SEO strategy and its execution.
Additionally, stakeholders may disagree on certain aspects of the proposed strategy or be unable to come to a consensus due to conflicting interests or objectives.
These delays and disagreements can cause the strategy to become outdated by the time it is finally implemented, leading to wasted resources, time, and money.
4. The ‘Bystander Effect'
The bystander effect, otherwise known as the Genovese Syndrome, is a phenomenon in which individuals in large groups fail to take responsibility for their actions or inaction.
In large organizations, this can lead to a lack of accountability and a lessened sense of urgency when it comes to taking action on any task. This can be especially detrimental when it comes to local SEO strategy planning, as it creates an environment in which each person involved assumes that someone else will take care of the details, leading to a lack of focus and direction on the part of all members.
The bystander effect also leads to another problem: general apathy towards tasks assigned within large organizations.
If each member feels disconnected from the task at hand and is not personally responsible for achieving success, they may not put forth their best effort. This could result in lackluster execution of plans or tasks related to local SEO and potentially hinder progress overall.
One of the most common scalability challenges that large organizations face when planning out a local SEO strategy is managing the vast number of locations they may have.
This can create complications when attempting to optimize for each location, as it can be difficult to ensure consistent branding and messaging across all locations.
Additionally, different regions will likely have their own unique set of keywords, content requirements, and language specifications, necessitating specialized optimization for each region.
Another significant scalability challenge is dealing with the sheer amount of data associated with each location, such as an address, phone number, hours of operation, and other information that must remain accurate and up-to-date to ensure effective local SEO rankings.
Duplicate listings or incorrect information can create confusion in search engine results pages and negatively impact rankings. This requires a great deal of effort to monitor multiple listings across numerous directories, citation sources and review websites.
Local SEO also requires businesses to continually adapt their strategies based on changes in users’ search behavior as well as periodic algorithm updates from Google and other search engines.
If a company fails to stay up-to-date on best practices for local SEO, they risk losing valuable visibility in local search engine results, which could hurt its bottom line significantly over time. To combat this problem effectively, businesses must regularly monitor their performance in local SERPs and take immediate corrective action whenever necessary to ensure maximum visibility for all their locations.
5 Local SEO Best Practices For Franchises
A successful local SEO strategy for franchises requires careful planning and implementation. The following 5 best practices will ensure optimal visibility in local search results.
1. Develop a Website with Localized Content
A multi-location organization should make several on-page content optimizations to better position each location in local search results.
Update Titles & Metas
Ensure that the website’s title tag and meta description accurately reflect each individual location.
The title tag should include the city of the location as well as a unique description related to the services offered or products sold at that particular physical location. The meta description should also include these elements but in addition, it should be written to draw visitors in and encourage them to click through from the search engine results page.
Feature identifying information such as address, phone number and operating hours on local landing pages.
This information should be clearly visible on the page itself, not hidden away in a footer or other less visible area of the site.
Additionally, embedding a map (or Google Business Profile) can help improve visibility for each physical location.
Create Localized Content
Create content specific to each physical store — such as product offerings or promotions — should be prominently showcased on its corresponding landing page.
This will help differentiate it from other locations and signal to search engines that this is an important page which people are looking for when they perform local searches.
Local keywords should also be included throughout the site’s content — such as city names or regional terms — to give search engines clues about this particular page’s relevance to certain geographical areas.
Implement Structured Data Markup
Local schema markup will improve how Google understands and indexes your site, which can also establish relationships with other relevant businesses near your locations so you can gain access to referral traffic from their respective customers.
Add Outbound Links to Relevant, Quality Sources
This will send trust signals to search engines that this page is authoritative and trustworthy, ultimately helping the store rank higher in local search results.
2. Create and Optimize Google Business Profiles
Having multiple Google Business Profiles is essential for multi-location businesses because it allows them to target multiple markets and reach a wider audience.
This can be extremely beneficial for franchises since they often have branches in multiple cities, states or even countries.
Having the ability to create profiles tailored to each of those locations allows large organizations to leverage local search results more effectively and increase their visibility.
Additionally, creating separate profiles also allows businesses to tailor their messaging and marketing approach based on the specific needs of each location’s customers.
A multi-location organization should take advantage of the optimizations available to them through Google Business Profile in order to better position each location in local search results.
This involves optimizing each location page and ensuring all pertinent information is included, such as the location name, address, website URL, phone number and business hours.
Adding photos and videos are an excellent way to help boost local search rankings, as well.
The organization should also ensure that accurate and consistent information is provided for each location across all listings.
This includes making sure the business NAP data is accurate and up-to-date on every listing, including both onsite and offsite listings (i.e., on social sites).
They should ensure that their contact information is formatted correctly for local citations as well as provide detailed descriptions of their products/services at each location; this will help create a more comprehensive local profile.
In addition to optimizing each individual listing, organizations should also look into creating a single entity page which can act as an umbrella page for their multiple locations. As well as helping with local SEO efforts, this page helps customers easily find all relevant information about the organization’s multiple locations in one place.
Furthermore, creating content around your company’s multiple locations can also help improve its overall visibility in local search engine results pages (SERPs). Such content could include blog posts or articles discussing different topics related to each location or even use case studies which highlight how different customers have used your services at different locations.
Overall, there are numerous strategies multi-location organizations can use to optimize their Google Business Profiles and achieve better positioning in local search results. It’s important that they stay on top of the latest SEO updates and trends while understanding what works best for their particular situation in order to maximize potential reach and visibility among target audiences.
3. Build A Strong Local Link Profile
There are several local link-building practices that multi-location businesses can implement to increase local rankings, generate more referral traffic to their website, increase local authority, and generate more sales leads.
Create Local Landing Pages
One of the best local link-building practices is to create location-specific pages on your website. These pages should include targeted keyword phrases related to each location, as well as information about the specific products and services offered at that location.
By creating these location-specific pages, you will be able to earn local links from other publishers, which will direct referral traffic back to your website and better position your brand as an authority in the community.
Build Local Citations
Another effective local link-building practice is to submit your website to online directories that are relevant to your business and your locations. These directories will provide links back to your website, which will help to increase your website’s authority and visibility in search engine results pages.
In addition, many of these directories also allow you to include additional information about your business, such as business hours, contact information, and a description of your products and services.
Finally, another great way to build local links is through social media.
Creating social media profiles for each of your locations and actively promoting your content through these channels can help to increase brand awareness and drive traffic back to your website.
Engaging with customers through social media can also help create a sense of community around your brand, which can lead to increased customer loyalty, sales, and relevance.
4. Carefully Manage Local Citations
Local citations serve as an external validation of a business’s existence, helping it to appear more legitimate in the eyes of potential customers and search engines like Google.
Multi-location organizations should develop an effective strategy for managing local citations to ensure that their local listings are up to date and ranking well in organic search results on Google.
To do this, organizations must first identify which online business directories and citation sources are most important for their industry and location. Organizations can use services like Direction Local to find the most relevant local citation sources, as well as to determine which citations already exist for their business.
Once primary citation sources have been identified, organizations should review them regularly to make sure all information is correct and up to date. This includes verifying the business’s name, address, phone number (NAP), website URL, opening hours, categories/keywords used in each listing, description of the business and its services/products offered.
Additionally, they should check if any duplicate listings exist or if any outdated listings need to be cleaned up. Keeping accurate NAP information across all listings is especially important as it helps create an authoritative signal that verifies the business’s existence in a particular locality and helps businesses rank higher in local search results.
In this way, citation management and local citation building provide tangible benefits both on- and offline which can help local franchises increase their ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs).
5. Monitor Customer Reviews
Managing customer reviews and generating more customer reviews are essential best practices for franchises that want to increase their local search rankings and cater to their local customer base.
Reviews are an important factor in determining where a business is ranked in local searches, as many customers use online ratings when making purchasing decisions. Positive reviews can make a huge difference in the way potential customers perceive your brand, so it’s crucial to make sure you’re actively managing them.
By responding positively to negative reviews, even if it’s just to thank them for bringing the issue to your attention, it can help repair relationships with disgruntled customers while also showing potential customers that you care about providing quality service or products.
This can have a significant impact on whether someone decides to patronize your business or not due in part because people tend to trust businesses they think will provide better service.
On the other hand, by proactively encouraging satisfied customers to leave positive reviews on your page or website, you’ll be able to bolster those positive perceptions of your business via an improved review rating.
People often take cues from others when making decisions about what kind of product or service they should seek out, so having many positive online ratings and customer reviews can be very influential in drawing more people into your storefront.
In addition, having frequent new customer reviews helps remind existing customers that your business is active and relevant in their daily lives which keeps them engaged with what you’re offering.
Overall, managing customer reviews and generating more customer reviews are key for franchises that want to tap into their local market and draw an increasing number of customers through efficient local search rankings.
With the right strategy for collecting feedback from customers and actively responding both positively and negatively to responses, businesses have the unique opportunity to turn dissatisfied people into loyal supporters while also increasing brand perception among potential new clients.
What's The Downside of Ignoring Local SEO?
If a large, multi-location organization ignores local SEO, it could be devastating to the business in many ways.
First off, ignoring local SEO means that the business is not targeting local markets, customers, and potential partners through organic search. As such, the company’s visibility in search engine results for local queries will be dramatically reduced, making it difficult for customers near them to find their business when searching online.
Ignoring local SEO also means that potential customers may never find out about the business’s products or services unless they hear about them through word of mouth. This would lead to a significant decline in the number of leads generated from online sources and fewer conversions.
Moreover, without properly localized content on its website and other online assets, the organization will fail to establish itself as an authority in its sector within its target market.
All in all, a lack of local SEO efforts can significantly damage a company’s reputation by preventing them from appearing in targeted organic searches or reviews sites where potential customers can read what others have to say about them. If a company isn’t found on any popular review platforms like Google Business Profile or Yelp, it can become much more difficult for customers to trust the brand or learn more about its services and offerings.
Overall, neglecting local SEO can lead to decreased visibility among potential customers who are looking for services nearby and lower levels of trust among those who would have otherwise been able to learn more about a business before committing to purchasing its offerings. Businesses can also end up losing out on valuable partnership opportunities due to low levels of visibility in localized searches by industry leaders who are looking for reliable partners in particular areas.
As such, it is important for companies with multiple locations around the world – or even just within one country – to invest in localized SEO campaigns so that they can maximize their reach and remain competitive in their markets.
If you’re running a multi-location business and want to speak with a Local SEO expert about starting a campaign, get in touch with us today.